RockerBug17 wrote:As an educator, what motivated you to apply for JET?
I had all sorts of misconceptions about Japanese students, primarily based on my experience with Japanese exchange students at my college and the highly inaccurate, yet typical American stereotypes of Japan's education system, so I figured that teaching in Japan would be easier and more pleasant than teaching in the US. I wanted to become a well-rounded, more effective and interesting teacher, and I saw JET as an opportunity to broaden my cultural horizons. Also, it was a damned good employment opportunity, and the job market in America wasn't exactly awesome, even in education fields. It was a chance to make and save a little money, go overseas, and live a little before I was forced to settle into some kind of boring existence.
RockerBug17 wrote:As an educator, what are your impressions of the Japanese education system?
It's a mixed bag. There are some aspects of Japan's education system that I love and feel are far superior to Western techniques. These are the things I came here to learn; I plan on taking the best that Japan has to offer its students back home with me when I return. There are other aspects of Japan's education system that are appallingly frustrating and counterproductive, things that just make me want to grab the teacher and shake him/her, screaming "WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU???"
RockerBug17 wrote:Are there any kernels of truth to the Japanese education system being superior to other nations?
Sure. As I said above, it's a mixed bag. There are other truths that will make you think Japan is so DUM and backwards, it's a wonder the entire country hasn't collapsed into anarchy.
Cytrix wrote:Oh darlings, please take off your rose-tinted glasses about the Japanese educational system and the students. It is not everything you've heard it is...
[Lots of good stuff]
...as with every school environment it can all depend on who the JTE is for that class. I have some classes where the JTE is awesome and the students are so enthusiastic and engaged in their learning...and then I have other JTEs who are more interested in flirting with the students than teaching them. But please do not come in thinking everything is going to be all kittens and rainbows and excellent students.
WORD. Especially that last part. The teacher, as always, makes all the difference in the world. I have one JTE who absolutely refuses to do any kind of creative activities, teaches the New Crown curriculum in the most unimaginably boring manner possible, requires tests and study materials that I make to be dumbed down to ridiculous levels, etc. I have another JTE who pushes creative use of English constantly; he's a fantastic teacher and his students' abilities reflect his commitment and drive. There doesn't seem to be much in the way of accountability amongst Japanese educators; there are difficult, rigorous tests required to acquire one's teaching certification, but once one is a teacher, there doesn't seem to be any accountability regarding student outcomes and achievement. I don't know much about this, though.
"Demonstration lessons" (observed by co-workers, parents, etc.) here are one of the most ridiculous things you'll ever see in your life. They are meticulously planned; my "not-so-great" JTE goes so far as to practice her "demonstration lessons" once or twice with the students before she actually has the real lesson.
Sendai_Momiji wrote:and then I have other JTEs who are more interested in flirting with the students
Oh gross!!! Good lord! And they get away with that? In broad daylight?
LOL Especially in High School, it doesn't seem to be much of a concern. I suspect this is a reflection of the manner in which Japanese students are treated as competent individuals capable of making reasonably intelligent choices and learning from their mistakes when they fail to do so. This is one of the aspects about Japan's education system that I rather admire, and one that I feel we, in the west, could learn from.
Sendai_Momiji wrote:The only thing I'M worried about is physical aggression. When you go through your ED classes they never mention anything about that. It's all "Don't touch the kids. Don't touch the kids! DON'T TOuCH THE KIDS! Oh yeah and let the intervention team handle child violence." So that's what I'm unsure of.
Then maybe you'd better not come to Japan. It is quite likely that a young child may attempt to insert his or her index fingers into your rectum at some point, and believe it or not, you'll probably find yourself attempting to stop them from doing so.
Cytrix wrote:One thing I've noticed here is the physicality of students and teachers...let alone the fact that the students are incredibly INCREDIBLY touchy feely with each other (I'll often walk into a class to see at least three boys sitting one each other's laps with their arms around their waists like no big deal). It seems to be okay for teachers to give a kid a smack on the head to reprimand them of something or to tug them around somewhere. Coming from an educational system where it's all about NO PHYSICAL TOUCHING it's a little bit different. However, it does mean that I can now poke students awake (but that is the extent of the touching I allow).
Since coming here, I've smacked kids with books (not hard, just playfully, of course), poked them, pulled them, and, on occasion, been forced to wrestle them off when they attempt to vigorously grope my dong. One of my ES classes regularly wants me to play "Rodeo" with them (they get on my back and I try to buck them off (playfully)). The first time I showed up at pre-school, three boys came running out of the bathroom stark naked and latched onto my legs, while the teachers just LOLed. The rules are different here; touching does not necessarily equate sexual, violent, or otherwise inappropriate contact in Japan. This took some getting used to, but I find it preferable to the stand-offish, cold, prudish attitude that we seem to have embraced in the West.
Cytrix wrote:One thing that Japan does really well is giving students that sense of responsibility and pride in their school. Their uniforms are pretty much immaculate, their classrooms tidy (since they have to tidy it all themselves) and they are very helpful towards the teachers. They also spend a lot of time at school with their clubs and extra study, with a lot of students and teachers working all through their lunch time and well to 7-8 at night on eiken practice and examination preparation.
WORD. School cleaning times are ingenious. It's all for show; half the time, the kids are just waving a broom around, sweeping nonexistent dirt, or wiping dirty water all over the floor with a disgustingly gross rag, but it's a fantastic way to motivate the kids to keep the school clean. Why throw trash on the floor or track mud in when you might be the one cleaning it later? Why spray the toilet seat with errant waste when you might be the one scrubbing it later? Why doodle on your desk when you'll just have to wipe it off that afternoon? Brilliant!
The extra time thing... mmm, I'm on the fence about it. For clubs and study, I understand. Most teachers stay late, however, because it's expected. One of my eikaiwa students claims that all Japan used to be this way; that a good, productive worker was one who stayed until late every evening, working hard. I explained that in America, a teacher who stays late every day is probably a poor teacher, because he/she is inefficient and budgeting his/her time poorly. Long working hours do not necessarily indicate a good employee, in other words. The eikwaiwa student agreed with me and explained that in most professions in Japan, in recent times, employees are judged on their efficiency and productivity, not necessarily the hours they put in. For some inexplicable reason, this has NOT happened in the teaching field.
This has resulted in some absolutely ridiculous consequences. I often see teachers, during the day, wasting time, goofing off, doing little, then, at night, working furiously in an attempt to look busy. A teacher will waste hours putting together a single worksheet that shouldn't take more than twenty or thirty minutes on a computer, at most.
Oh, boy, don't even get me started on the lack of computer literacy here. Some (certainly not all) Japanese teachers are absolutely appallingly computer-illiterate. I don't even think my school secretary at my home school is capable of successfully opening, editing, and printing a Word document.
Teishou wrote:When I worked with kindergartners as a high schooler...the "no touching" thing was never really emphasized - it was just obvious. No normal person goes up and touches people they don't really know anyway. Why would you touch some kid you don't know? Pedo much? :<
I actually used to think this way, but now, I realize that this way of thinking is culturally biased, and, in hindsight, is just pathetic. How sad is it that we Westerners have gotten to the point where we see any sort of physical contact in a sexual light? I now find such cultural attitudes disturbing and foolish, despite the fact that I once considered them self-evident.*
*It is still totally awkward to run into my students in an onsen, especially if they are of the opposite sex, and even more especially when they yell "WORD-SENSEI!!!!" and attempt to tackle me while naked.